Winter Break Things

It’s the first day of Winter Break! *rave dances to Christmas dubstep*

Best Grinch Dance GIFs | Gfycat

The weekend was a busy one. My husband recently started a wedding and event design business with our mutual friend, and they had a GIANT event Friday. Like, 500 attendees. So, I helped clean up after the party and we were at the venue until 1am. Then we had to get up early, unload some more stuff and then return the U-Haul by 8:30a.

So, we’re all exhausted and sore, but the event went GREAT and the client was super happy. We got our Christmas tree on Saturday and celebrated Candlenights with my fellow podcast host, Heather. Sunday was for lounging, watching Home Alone (1 & 2), and decorating the tree. It’s been a really nice weekend.

Today, being the first day of Winter Break, is the first day of my new “Work From Home” schedule. I came up with the idea while listening to Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang and imagining my ideal, write-for-a-living kind of life.

How Yoga with Adriene Combated My Mental Illnesses | by Malinda Garcia |  Medium

So, I woke up, did some yoga, considered taking the dog for a walk but it’s like 40º and pouring down rain so we skipped that, then I ate breakfast, drank coffee and caught up on social media. Now I’m here, writing this blog post.

After this it’s chores. There’s some laundry and dishes I’d like to tackle and I need to go grocery shopping. It’s apparently going to snow for like 5 days next week so I’m going to stock up now before the real madness sets in. This side of the Cascades no one knows how to handle winter weather, the whole town will shut down if it’s even slightly icy. I wan to be prepared for 5ish days of avoiding going outside…

Although that’s been the norm for almost two years at this point I suppose.

Once all that’s done, I’m home for the day. That means lots of writing and reading time! The schedule calls for a three hour writing block after lunch. If I reach 2k words written in that time, I can skip the scheduled two hour evening writing block. I’m also working on Tavi revisions again so I’ll need to split the three hour block up between revising and writing the new novel.

In addition to all this writing, I have seven books that I’d like to read over these two weeks. Admittedly, that’s a lot of fucking books. I’ll be happy if I finish four of them. And of course there are non-writing related goals. Wrap Christmas presents, walk the dog daily (weather permitting), do yoga every day, keep up on chores, etc.

So, a busy but calm Winter Break. We’ll see if all this wintry weather will extend it… Fingers crossed!

What are your last two weeks of the year looking like?


The Benefits of a Critique Group

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it at this point, but I recently joined/sort started a Science Fiction/Fantasy critique group. We had our second meeting tonight, and as the instigator of the group, I was one of two folks critiqued tonight.

I sent the group the first ~10pgs of Tavi.

I had a lot of feelings about this. Upon sending it I felt confident. I’ve read this book at least seven times. I know it’s good, I just need more eyes on it to ask questions and point out things that might not have occurred to me. But as the time drew nearer, anxiety kicked in. My chest felt tight, my heart raced, and the cold sweats kicked in.Sheldon hyperventilating panic attack Big Bang Theory | Reaction Gifs

Now, I feel I must explain. This anxiety wasn’t a sudden belief that the book is bad, or that I was a fraud, or any of those other impostery sorts of doubts all writer-folk are prone to. This was a very specific sort of fear:

No one has ever read this book except for me. For three years, this book has been secreted away on the page and in my brain. And now seven strangers have not only read these pages, but they’re going to tell me what they THINK about them???

Yeahhhhh, that ushered in the panic real quick.

But, I want to query agents with this book. I want lots of strangers to read this book. So I have to get over this sudden, unexpected fear. For this alone, I would say participating in this critique group is worth it.

But, wait! There’s more!Wait there GIFs - Get the best gif on GIFER

They liked it! I mean, there were some critiques, the manuscript isn’t perfect, but the criticisms were largely small, simple fixes that might not even be strictly necessary. They laughed where I wanted them to. They appreciated the tension, and the balance of horror and humor. They quoted some of my lines and descriptions back to me. They… they legitimately LIKED it.

That alone is enough to have me floating on cloud nine tonight, but that isn’t what really made me happiest. I mean, of course people liking my pages made me extremely happy, but it made me happy for a very specific reason.

That validation, babeyy!

I’ve spent over a decade writing. Honing my craft. Experimenting. And all the while my understanding of my work, of what’s “good” and what “works,” has been developing right along with it. My instincts for my writing has been validated tonight. I felt like I finally felt the pay-off for all these years of writing and working on my craft.

This is what it’s for. This is why we do the work. It’s about developing our skills and developing our instincts or understanding our writing.

Now, I know that it won’t be this way each week. I’m sure as get further along (muddy middle anyone?) there will be more criticism. But I’m also sure that most of it, if not all, will be expected. Because I know my work, and I have a newfound trust in my assessment. And that’s extra exciting, because I know this book is very close to being ready to query. It may not even take as long as I originally planned…

God, this just felt so good, y’all. A part of me wishes I’d joined a critique group sooner, but honestly? I don’t think I was ready before now. This is the right time.

Anyway, I’m done gushing. I just wanted to share that having a group to read and discuss your work can be scary, but also so so validating. I can’t wait to read more of the group’s work and to help each other grow as writersthe gif of the magi


Until next time, Blogland.


Oh. Shit. It’s DECEMBER?!

Hey Bloggos,

Sorry it’s been so quiet over here. This weekend was a blur of birthday celebrations and I felt like I barely had a moment to think — in all the best ways! We drove up to Seattle for a couple of days and saw our favorite podcasters (The McElroys) perform both MBMBAM and The Adventure Zone live! We also walked around Emerald City Comic Con and ate so much AMAZING food. It was a truly wonderful weekend, definitely the best in recent memory.


Which brings me to today. I’m feeling really good. Refreshed in a way I didn’t expect, to be honest. It’s nice to remember there’s a world outside of work and home. And there’s no better city to remind me than Seattle. I love it so, so, so much.

Some things I wanted to talk about are actually writing related! I know, weird! I’ve joined — founded? — a Science Fiction/Fantasy critique group through Willamette Writers. Surprisingly, they didn’t have one already, and I have a very serious need. Tavi is at a point where I could use some outside eyeballs and I need a group of writers to hold me accountable. And I’d really like to grow my writing community. So yeah. That starts on Wednesday and it starts with me.

I’m not nervous or anything.Kermit Kermit The Frog GIF - Kermit Kermit The Frog Nervous - Discover &  Share GIFs

I’m still working on Victoria… Have I talked about my nanowrimo project with any sort of specificity on here yet?

*Searches recent posts*

Huh. Well, I’m writing a near-future, gender-swapped retelling of Frankenstein. It’s set in Seattle and is the strangest thing I’ve written, process-wise. I’m not going to get into it much here because the draft isn’t done. It’s nowhere near done. I’m about a third of the way through the first draft and I think it’s more of a zero draft than an honest to goodness first draft…

Point is, it’s very much in progress so I shan’t discuss it too much. I’m working on it.

In other news, I wanted to share that two of my short stories are now available in print! If you’d like to support small magazines/publishers please, please, please consider purchasing print copies of both the City. River. Tree. 2020 Anthology and of Luna Station Quarterly Issue 046.


They’d make pretty cool gifts and ship super quick. Just sayin’…

Top Shelf LogoIn other other news, a new episode of Top Shelf Librarians dropped Friday morning. If you haven’t yet, go ahead and give it a listen! I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now. It’s the end of the year (finally) so I’m sure I’ll be back with some reflective musings and big plans for the coming year. I think I’m actually ready to think big things. But as ever, we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?

Until then, Blogland.


In Which There are Goals

It’s been so long since I had any sort of goal other than “please God, let me write SOMETHING” that I’m feeling a bit out of sorts. Both nervous and excited. Goals. Huh. Wasn’t sure I’d see those again.

August To Do’s:

  • Finish reading Black Sun
  • Finish listening to The Only Good Indians
  • Continue various research
  • Record the next episode of Top Shelf Librarians

I’d say I am on track to meet all my goals for August. I’m already working on all of them, so I don’t see why the next two weeks should be any different. Feeling good!

September To Do’s:

  • Submit Fellowship Application to Oregon Literary Arts
  • Complete Tavi revision #3
  • Continue various research
  • Record next episode of Top Shelf Librarians
  • Read Salem’s Lot and Dracula

A bit more happening in September, but it’s still mostly reading. Sure, there’s more revision on the horizon, but when isn’t there? Sprinkle in some writing for the fellowship application and it’s a busy but doable month.

I feel like these are less goals and more like priorities. It’s reminders to keep doing what I’m doing and to feel good about the work again. That makes me very happy.

I think the real reason I’m here, at this hour (almost 10pm as of this writing) is that I’m nervous about returning to work tomorrow. There’s so much uncertainty around schools right now and I don’t think I can handle more rollercoaster. If we’re going to be online again, just say so my dudes so I can fall back into that routine. It wasn’t fun or comfortable, but at least I’ve already been there and done that. I can go back to it with (slightly) fresher eyes and improve upon the work I did. But if we’re going to force in-person full time school in the middle of another corona surge…

That’s just sounds like a bad time.

So I’m anxious. Uncertain. Not as excited as I hoped to be. There’s a lot of things happening this year that give me a sense of dread instead of hope. So I’m here, talking about writing instead of prepping my lunch and going to bed. Because if I don’t go to bed then the morning won’t come, right?

I’m pretty sure that’s how time works.

Or not. Damnit Jim, I’m a writer, not a Time Lord!


On Doubt

This morning started with an article from The Writer Magazine in my inbox. Now, I don’t normally read the newsletter-ish sorts of emails that spam my inbox, but this headline caught my pre-coffee brain. Why are Writers so Prone to Self-Doubt?

It made me immediately ask, “Am I prone to self-doubt?” Which is hilarious because I am so anxiety-riddled on a daily basis I can hardly make appointments for basic things and am a constant over-thinker. Of course I’m prone to self-doubt! I’m so prone to it I don’t even recognize it any more!

Anyway, it’s a lengthy article that looks at the various sources of anxiety and doubt for us Writer Types and it got me thinking about what my writerly doubts are and how I’ve coped with them. And since it’s early, and my brain is chugging away at something meaty, I thought I’d share. 

The Big One: Rejection

One thing that the non-writers in my life seem to struggle with is when I tell them I’ve had a story rejected. Usually we’re mid-conversation (or dinner or movie or or or…) and I stop engaging to look at my phone. I’ve received an email from that market that’s had my story for months, and of course the subject line is just “RE: SUBMISSION”. 

Now, I know the odds. Trust me, I’ve received enough rejections (and a few acceptances) at this point to know I am almost certainly looking at a rejection. But there’s that tiny part of me, the Writer who never gives in, that bubbles up in my chest and says, “What if…?”

So I hold my breath (I always do, I can’t help it) and open the email. And — oh look — a rejection. Exhale, screen off, return to the conversation (or dinner or movie or or or…). Of course now I realize how incredibly rude I’ve just been and say, “sorry, just got a rejection.”

Their face does that little crumply frown of concern. “Oh no! I’m so sorry!”

I wave them off. “It’s fine, I just need to remember to send it out again when I get home.” And that just confuses them. And that confused me for a long time. I mean, yes, rejection sucks but it is part of the process if you want your work published. There’s no avoiding it. So, early on, I just sort of braced for impact and gritted my teeth. Ate some ice cream while I spent 15-20 minutes looking for the next market, and then sent it off again.

Now I don’t even bother with the ice cream. 

But for folks unaccustomed to rejection, this is one of their biggest fears. Sharing something they worked hard on, put their soul into and are proud of, only to be told it isn’t good enough. I mean, looking at it like that, it does sound miserable. But… it just doesn’t feel like that anymore. Part of it is the practice, right? You submit, get rejected, submit again and that builds armor. There’s a whole ding-dang blog about it! (Aeryn Rudel’s Rejectomancy is a super neat site that likens rejection to a class in D&D and how you level up and gain armor, etc. Check it out!)

The other part is realizing what I do and don’t have control over. Now, part of being an incredibly Anxious™ person is a desperate need to feel in control of most things. Relinquishing said control is… difficult. But, with publishing there’s no control to be relinquished. I never had any to start with. The only thing I can control is the writing and where I choose to send it. So, to “ease” my anxiety over the whole process, the story must be as good as I can possibly make it and I need to research and carefully choose what markets I submit to. That’s it. That’s all I can do.

It’s all any of us can do. And that’s why I don’t mind rejections. They aren’t personal, they are an inseparable part of the process. 

So, What About My Writing do I Doubt?

Oh man. Well, for awhile, during the pandemic, I actually started to doubt my idea generation. That’s never been an issue for me in the past, but my brain was so creatively empty for so long that I started to wonder if I was tapped out. I now know that I’m fine and have plenty of ideas — my creative brain just decided to take a sabbatical. 

I doubt my ability to write really powerful, literary Speculative Fiction. I’m thinking N.K. Jemisin, Seanan McGuire, and Sam J. Miller here. They are freaking powerhouses writing story after story, novel after novel that just consistently blow my mind. I doubt my ability to blow anyone’s mind, either with plot or craft. That doesn’t mean I’m not trying! I am. Like I said in my post last week, I keep reaching and trying new things because 1. it’s fun, and 2. it’s going to help me grow as a writer. 

Kevin Hearne said it best on his short-lived podcast Ask the Bards, “Write more, write different, write better.”

But, my biggest doubt, or maybe my biggest fear is that I’m too transparent in my work. I don’t realize it while I’m writing, but when I go back to revise so many little things from my life are staring back up at me. To me they are SO. PAINFULLY. OBVIOUS. Anyone who knows me at all is going to read that and see all of me in those lines. Even the parts I don’t typically share. Maybe especially those parts.

We call that vulnerability and I hate it. Anxiety Brain, remember? I can’t control how others perceive me through my writing. Writing is a two-way street, an art experiment that is only complete when read by an audience. I can do my damndest to be clear with my themes and subjects and characters, but ultimately the final interpretation happens within the reader. 

And that I cannot control. 

I try. Oh, do I ever try. I am very selective about who gets to read my drafts. Seeing the work before it’s “finished” is probably the biggest declaration of trust I can ever make. Trust and that I value your opinion. It’s me opening a door into my consciousness and saying, “come on in! Sorry about the mess.”

But even this flex of control is just a balm. Because once a story is published, it is out of my hands. I can’t control who does or doesn’t read it, how they react to it. If they like it. Or how it might change their perception of me. Writer Brittany and World Brittany are two very different people. 

At least, I think they are.

One is meant for public consumption, the face I present at work, in my community, even to my friends to some extent. Writer Brittany is… well she’s real weird, all right? She thinks about death a lot, and about love too. She imagines tentacled, spectral moose monsters attacking subway trains and thinks it’s funny. And she seems kind of obsessed with characters whose decisions lead to isolation and loneliness, because they won’t open up to the people who care about them. 

There’s that vulnerability again. I still hate it. But if it’s there on the page then, yes, people will read it. They’ll see it. But most importantly, they’ll feel it. And they’ll know that, in some ways, the story was real.

That’s called authenticity, and in fiction it is everything. 

The conclusion then is that our doubts and/or fears are probably pointing to areas in our work that we need to embrace. That we should emphasize and focus on. Because what makes us uncomfortable makes us grow, right?

I don’t know, man. Take from that what you will. I have a novel to edit. 



My Process™

Here’s a detailed bullet-point list of my process, for those interested. Because, c’mon, you know you are. Just a little. Please remember that this is not prescriptive. My whole previous post was about how very unique each writer’s process is. I’m sharing mine because people seem to love hearing about writing processes, and because it’s kinda fun to talk about every now and again.

Ahem. On to the list.

  1. Get a weird idea for a story. Usually a line of dialogue or an image in my brain.
    1. For instance, the upcoming Pioneer Oregon Weird Western was born from my brain showing me a woman in a leather rain slicker on a horse in the middle of the Santiam Canyon getting drenched and looking rather unhappy about it.
  2. Ignore it for awhile.
    1. Stories need time to percolate. The longer I can ignore the siren call the better prepared I’ll be when I actually sit down to write the thing. It’s cooking and it needs to be left to its own devices for a bit.
  3. When the time to draft is getting close, start doing any necessary research.
    1. Usually about a month or two before I sit down to write a book, I’ll dive into pretty serious research.
    2. Short stories don’t typically require much research, so I can skip this step for most of them.
  4. Make a playlist.
    1. This may seem silly, but this is a very important step for me. Every story, big or small, gets a playlist. I spend a few days searching for songs from all kinds of genres. Songs are usually not only lyrically related, but tonally as well. They sound like the story. I don’t know how better to describe it, but there’s a vibe, okay?
    2. This step helps me cement the tone/atmosphere of the story. But it also becomes a sort of psychological conditioning. I listen to the playlist whenever I work on the story. It becomes the soundtrack and hearing it helps me settle down to the work that much quicker. This is an absolutely vital step in the process for me. It’s my version of prewriting.
  5. Write.
    1. This is the Wild West of the process. Every story is different. Some write themselves in a handful of sessions while others are arduous and painfully slow.
    2. Stories take the time they take. Some short stories take a week to write, dumping out over the course of a few days. Others take months with only a few writing sessions here and there. Novels tend to be a much steadier process for me, with dedicated (some would say obsessive) work over a span of six-ish consecutive months.
  6. Ignore it again.
    1.  When I reach “The End” I save it and close the document. I get away from it for as long as I can. For short stories a month is usually long enough. For novels… well, they live in my head longer so they require a lot longer to gtfo.
    2. I haven’t perfected the timeframe between the rough draft and edits for a novel. I’ve only done it a few times and each one was different. This current one had a lot of mental health issues to contend with. I was laid off the summer I finished it. Then I started a new, very stressful job. Then there was that whole global pandemic, and then a LOT of political and social unrest.
      1. My novels might not take place in the real world (very often) but I am a person living in the world and I am not immune to its effects. All of this plays into the process too.
  7. Revision, Round I
    1. Ugh. This round is all about reading the book. I print out the entire manuscript and read it in one sitting if I can. I take notes if anything good or bad stands out to me. I dread this moment of reading the book for the first time, but so far I’ve always been pleasantly surprised.
    2. So, I’ve got notes. I make goals based on those notes, and then I go back through the book and meet all those goals. This is typically big picture stuff. Scenes that don’t work, holes in the plot, restructuring scenes, etc.
    3. Try not to line edit, but inevitably do. Put all on-paper changes into the computer.
  8. Revision, Round II
    1. Read it again. Print it out and take notes again. Note if any of the previous revision’s changes don’t work as planned.
    2. Make goals based on this read-through’s notes. These goals are still fairly big picture, but they’re getting smaller. More specific.
    3. Try not to line edit, but inevitably do. Put all on-paper changes into the computer.
  9. Revision, Round III
    1. Read it again. Print it out and take notes again. Note if any of the previous revision’s changes don’t work as planned.
    2. Now, at this point, it should be pretty solid. If there aren’t any major notes, this is the point when I’ll give it to some trusted readers for feedback. Probably some sensitivity readers too.
    3. Try not to fiddle while I wait for feedback. Fail. Make changes in the computer too.
  10. Revision, Round IV
    1. Gather feedback and decide what I agree with and what I don’t. This can be tricky because stories are subjective. I live by this quote from Neil Gaiman: “When someone tells you something is wrong with your story, they’re almost always right. When someone tells you how to fix it, they’re almost always wrong.”
    2. Make changes.
  11. Revision, Round V
    1. Yep, still reading. Print it out. But this time, it’s less about notes. By now I’ve made all the big things work. I’ve done all the tough stuff and tweaked scenes and pacing and filled plot holes and added emotion where it’s needed. Now, it’s the fun stuff!
    2. LINE EDITS BABEYY. Now, knowing me, I’ve been doing some line editing all the way through because I can’t help myself. But this is where I get to wield my red pen like it’s a scalpel and just shave the book into something… glorious. Powerful.
    3. I love this step of the process. Can you tell?
  12. Submit
    1. So, I come off the line edit step of the process and jump feet first into the Submission step. I send it out and let that editing high carry me into the abyss of publishing.
    2. Start the whole process over on the next project. It makes the next step a bit easier to bear.
  13. Wait.
    1. Publishing is SLOW. Very, very slow. So, we wait. Often for months. The doubt trickles back pretty damn quick and I start to think I am an idiot for doing this and why would anyone ever want to read what I wrote?
    2. Ignore the doubt monster and keep working on the next thing.
  14. Rejection.
    1. Look. This is part of the process. The more you submit, the more you’re rejected, the less it matters. Rejections don’t hurt anymore. They are simply part of the process.
  15. Submit again.
    1. Keep throwing that story spaghetti at editors’ walls until something sticks!
  16. Acceptance?
    1. This is never guaranteed. As a writer, I have absolutely ZERO control over which stories get published and which don’t. But, with persistence, I have a decent hit rate.
    2. If I do get an acceptance, I celebrate. I reward myself with dinner or a drink. No matter how small the magazine, a publication is worth celebrating.
    3. Tell EVERYONE. Scream about it into the void of the internet. That’s the whole point of publishing, right? For people to read what you wrote? To share it with the world? Why wouldn’t you promote your work? PROMOTE YOUR WORK!
  17. Start again.
    1. I am always in the process. It looks a little different for each story, but I’m still always in it. Even when I think I’m not. And you know what? I find that oddly comforting.


Writer Brain Goes Brrrrrrrrr

I woke up this morning and found myself with an overabundance of thoughts. Writerly™ thoughts. So, I got dressed, loaded the dog in the car, and went for some iced coffee to drink about it. That didn’t cure me, so now I suppose I’ll just have to write about it.

First things first, I woke and scrolled through social media like every other mentally chucked Millennial I know. And no, I don’t know what “mentally chucked” means, but I liked it so much I’ve decided to keep it. So, I’m scrolling through the Pit of Despair that is Facebook when I stumble upon this post from V.E. Schwab.Author V. E. Schwab adds some magic to everyday life | The Source |  Washington University in St. Louis

In it she talks about how painful the drafting process is for her, and how she seems to continuously edit her own memory of the process. “The last book wasn’t this bad! I must be a fraud, or something’s wrong with this book!” etc, etc. Now, those of us who have followed her socials for awhile know that she has some sort of emotional outburst/meltdown during the drafting process of every book. That’s just how it goes. It’s part of her process.

Ah, The Process™.

And here we are. I woke up and while my brain was still all sleepy-eyed and unawares, we were forced to think about writing processes. It’s a popular topic. Invariably at every conference or reading, anywhere writers are to be had, they are asked about their “Process”. Nascent scribes ask in the hopes that they’ll be told the “secret” and some wizened storyteller will grant them the key to making it make sense.

There is no key y’all.

The Writing Process™ is deeply personal and unique to each writer. Often we share similarities or there are some common threads that make us all go, “ahhhh, yep. Been there.” But no two writers do it exactly the same (that’s what she said).

Also, and this was a much tougher lesson learned, no two stories require quite the same process. The Process™ can change based on the needs of the thing you’re writing. Which is deeply disconcerting when you feel like you’ve FINALLY got the hang of this writing business and now you’re starting all over again for the very first time. Which I think is what Ms. Schwab is talking about in her post. For her, drafting a novel feels like writing a book for the very first time. Every time. At least, to me, that would suck butts. Writing my first book was a big ol’ experiment in “I have no idea what I’m doing but here are some words on a page and I THINK if you read them in order there’s a story in there somewhere.”

And at the time, I loved that feeling. Mostly because I was so deeply proud that I’d managed to write a story that was more than 2500 words AND had a beginning, middle, and end. Up to that point the most I’d ever written on a single piece was 14k words and it fizzled and died on the page. That was when I learned that I couldn’t jump ahead and write the ending first. If I do that, then the story is “done” in my head and my brain just gives up on the whole project. Endings must come last.

I’d like to say that the subsequent books went differently, but deep down they didn’t. Sure, there’s a lot less trepidation and my gut instinct for when the story is working is pretty well honed now. But, no matter how much research or outlining I do, there’s always that element of “well, I have no idea what’s happening, but words are coming and I’m not about to pull this car over!” And I like that. It excites me. I get this whirlwind feeling in my chest that I’m being swept up in something that isn’t quite under my control and I’m not 100% sure where I’ll end up.

I guess it sorta feels like magic.

Then, of course, comes the revision process. This is where I have my meltdowns and emotional outbursts. Now, for short stories, revising is my favorite part. Cutting mercilessly and honing in on the themes and motifs? Tweaking and perfecting lines until they sing? Oh, yeah babeyy! That’s what I’m talking about!

But, content revision? On a novel? I’d rather vomit.

So, lemme just lay this out for the non-writerly folk who happen upon this blog and have somehow made it this far. Content Revision™ is looking at the book’s big pictures once the rough draft is complete (plot points, character development, pacing, etc.) and making sure they all do the things they’re supposed to. Making sure there aren’t any gaping holes and embarrassing missteps. Making sure the book makes sense and is, y’know, GOOD.

It’s hell in a word document.

My ADHD brain has a VERY hard time thinking this broadly. It gets distracted by little things, things that should come last in the process (like line editing) and then I have to stomp on the brakes and say, “wait… where were we?” There is a lot of stop/starting for me in this step of the Process™.

Thinking about the piece as a whole is… man. It’s just really hard for me. Even now, on the second revision for Tavi, I’m struggling to think of it as a whole book and not just a collection of scenes that need to be in a certain order. Ok, that makes it sound WAY less coherent than it actually is. It’s not just a collection of scenes. It is a whole book. A surprisingly whole book, I would say. I marvel that it came out of me!I've Connected the Two Dots | Know Your Meme

Anyway, the point is that we all have different methods. It takes years to get a good handle on your own process, and even then it’s not something that ever really stops growing. The more you read, the more you study the Craft™, the more writing friends you make, the more prepared you are for when the story requires something more from you. Something new.

This is why writing is a skill. Art is a skill. You are constantly learning and experimenting, layering what you know with what you want to try. And sometimes it just doesn’t work. Sometimes, you reach too far, and you find yourself working on a story you simply aren’t equipped to tell yet. So, it goes in a drawer, literally, mentally, what have you. You put it away and you keep working on other stuff. You keep reading and writing and learning, until that story crawls itself out of the drawer, knocks on your skull and says, “Is it my turn yet?”

That’s the process. There is no universal secret. There is no magical key that makes creating easy. I’d say it does get easier, but I don’t even think that’s true. Creating doesn’t get easier, you get better. You just have to keep. going.


Taika, Take the Wheel


What has happened to me? Goal setting used to be so easy! It was how I managed every aspect of my writing life, and it never steered me wrong. I was (am?) a goal setting pro! But now I stare at Tavi and though my natural instinct is to chunk it out into smaller bites and analyze how long it’ll take me to get to the next stage of the project… I can’t? Do that?

Every time I try a bigger, much more confident part of my brain swoops in and says, “nah. This ain’t that kinda project.” For some reason this part of my brain sounds like it’s from New Zealand. Probably because I’ve watched Thor: Ragnarok like three times this summer. If my inner-genius wants to channel Taika Waititi I am ALL for it.

I expected to feel adrift. How can I even function as a writer if I’m not setting SMART goals? What do you mean I haven’t completely scienced out how many weeks it will take to finish? If I don’t reverse plan, how will I know that I’ll get it done on time? Am I even me if I’m not obsessively Type-A-ing the shit out of everything?

And my Taika brain just shrugs, says, “I dunno, man” and then points to a part of the book. “But, maybe you could start by moving this bit over here? It just makes more sense there, yeah?” And then I look, and sure as shit, IT DOES make more sense there!

So, I guess this means it’s out of my hands. I’m letting the imaginary manifestation of my Writer Brain™, masquerading as Taika Waititi, take the wheel.

waititi Tumblr posts -

I’ll keep y’all posted as to how this goes…


It’s Monday.

I haven’t started my week with a blog post in a very very long time. I don’t have a ton to say today. There weren’t any writing activities over the weekend since we were at the coast partying it up with a good friend for her Bachelorette Party.

I have received some feedback on Abbie from my Elite Reading Group™. Nothing concrete that I can make edits from, but some general “It’s really good!” and “I liked it a lot” and even an “It’s so different from your other stories!”. And while that’s all fine and good, I need to give them all a little nudge to give me something a touch more substantial.

Now is about the time where I worry about where the heck I’m gonna submit this story. It’s quiet. So so quiet. The fantasy element is very thin, just a sprinkling of spice. I know at the start of the pandemic there was talk of a magazine being put together that would focus on these sort of stories… but I don’t know if that every truly came to be. I have a feeling this is going to be a very long submission process.


In other news, the newest episode of the podcast is OUT NOW! Give it a listen, and prepare yourself for another episode this Friday! We’ve been busy little library worker bees and have lots of good books to share with you!

Other than podcast editing, I’m going to start back on Tavi this week and see if I can get this very big ball rolling. I’ve got ~3 months to get it DONE. And I mean, done done. Like… start sending it to agents done.

I think I need to do some deep breathing exercises…

Anyway, that’s where I’m at. That’s what’s on the plate for this week, revisions of all kinds. I’ll pop in every now and again, either to tell you about all the progress I’m making, or to avoid all the progress I’m NOT making. You know how it goes.

Until then,


Goals Summary?

It’s Tuesday. It’s a weird week because Trev is off for our anniversary, so any routine I might have established is out the window. There’s a lot of non-writing things to do, both fun and necessary. I’m feeling restless while he’s still asleep, so I figured I ought to come blog about it. Y’know, like a writer or something.

I started my morning with iced coffee and Willamette Writers. Every Tuesday and Saturday they have zoom meetings (called, Coffee at your Kitchen Table) where members can pop in and discuss writerly things for an hour or so. Over the winter I co-led the Saturday meetings, but with spring and the outdoors calling, I bowed out of that responsibility. But, I still like to attend whenever I can, especially the smaller, calmer Tuesday morning session.

So, I did that today. We were practicing our novel pitches ahead of the conference this weekend. I don’t have a novel to pitch right now, so I just listened and took notes about what should be included in a good pitch. I’ll need that info sooner than later, hopefully.

Normally I would volunteer for the conference, but a friend of mine is having a bachelorette weekend getaway, so I’ll be out of town. And while the conference is virtual again this year, I don’t want to split my time between my friend’s celebration and the conference duty, so I had to ix-nay the conference. Sad day. I hope everyone has a great time and wish all the success to folks pitching their work to agents/editors this weekend. It’s such a scary thing to do, so kudos to you all!

After that, I picked up dog shit so the yard guy doesn’t have to work around it. I know, riveting stuff this Tuesday.

But, after this post I’m going to sit down to revise Abbie, aka In the Librarian’s Garden. Then, once Trevor’s up, we’ll spend the day cleaning house and the garage in preparation of our trip and the installation of a new HVAC system next week. So, it’ll be a busy busy day today.

Tomorrow we’re going to snorkel the river and hunt for agates, which is always a blast. Thursday is a free day until the evening, when we’re officially celebrating our anniversary (which was yesterday), and then we’re off to the coast for the weekend.

Somewhere in there I also need to edit and upload a new episode of the podcast.

Like I said, busy busy.

My biggest goal is to get this story polished and sent to my circle of readers for their thoughts. I want it to be mostly done before we leave for the weekend. Then I get to tweak and shine it up next week for submission. Once it’s sent out I can pivot my focus to Tavi and the monstrous job of revising it. I’ll have two-ish months to make it as good as I can. It’s going to take some pretty aggressive goal-setting to get that done.

Maybe next week I’ll actually post a real Goals Summary… Who knows? Certainly not me.

Until then, Bloggos.